Auksford Bible in Verse
Fragments of the Gospel
according to Robin Gordon
King Herod’s situation
Wise Men come from the East
The Unjust Judge
“Well, she’s no better than she should be.
I wonder who the father could be.
I tell you this, it isn’t Joe.
You only have to look to know
how miserable he feels, poor lad.
Now who’d have thought she’d turn out bad.
“What’s that you say? She’s off to see
her cousin? Hmm! Well that’ll be
the last we see of her until
it’s born, and then she will
saunter back without a care.
I wonder how she just can dare!
“Her cousin’s pregnant too, you say?
Elizabeth? In the family way?
How old is she? Well there you are.
You haven’t got to look too far
to see just how they mean to fix
it. What a devious load of tricks.
Augustus, Rome's great Emperor,
so weary in his bones,
tears his hair – it’s rather sparse –
and this is what he groans:
“How can we tax these beastly Jews
if we don’t know the facts
of what it is each family owns
and how it interacts
with every other in the land,
and who’s the son of whom.
I fear these fiscal problems
will bring me to my tomb.”
Augustus, Rome’s great Emperor,
he tore his hair and swore
the mighty Roman Empire
should suffer it no more
that subject peoples far away
should hide from her their wealth,
refusing modern family names,
deceiving her by stealth.
They will not worship Roman gods,
not Jupiter or Mars,
They claim that theirs, the living god,
all other gods debars.
“King Herod is a friend of Rome.
King Herod is a fox.
King Herod brings our taxes in,
but secretly he mocks.
He knows, he must know,
what is what and who’s the
son of whom
what family wealth is handed on,
who owns each family tomb.
They trace their ancestry right back,
by many devious ways,
to ancient kings of long ago,
before the Empire's days.
“Each and every Jew must know
his ancestry and line.
He traces it from man to man,
as on this hand of mine
I trace the lines of life and wealth
that brought me to my crown.
He knows his family’s origins,
he knows his family’s town -
And that's the way I’ll trap them
and write it in a scroll
just who belongs to every tribe -
then ... see the money
Augustus, Rome’s great Emperor
decreed throughout the land
that, though the Jewish people
be numerous as sand,
the sands that cover deserts,
or stars that light the sky,
they all should now be counted,
or else they all should die,
and so that tax collectors
could tell what’s handed
the members of each family
should journey to its town.
“Make sure the people understand
throughout the Jewish Promised Land,”
said Herod with a wolfish grin,
“the situation I am in.
“This ineluctable decree
has come from Caesar, not from me,
and so, I’m very much afraid
that it will have to be obeyed.”
Wise men come
from the east
There were in Persia’s far-off plains
and hills and scented bowers,
where rivers fed by winter’s rains
pass cities and great towers,
wise priests who watched the stars by night
to know the fate of men,
and read in constellations bright
who’d fall, who’d rise again.
Their master, Zarathustra, taught
ONE God had made the earth,
and so, by watching stars they sought
news of an era’s birth,
for in the Great Year of the stars,
full twenty thousand long,
no false note ever wrongly jars
in all Creation’s song.
Ahura Mazda, Lord of Light,
whom Jews had called Jehovah,
proclaimed the Age of Pisces’ might,
the last long age was over.
Now as they watched these priests beheld
conjunction in the skies:
the King’s star and the Father’s meld,
the New Age doth arise.
The Father’s star’s for Israel,
the country of the Jews.
The King’s star means Emanuel:
now doth the Father choose
to vest his Son in kingly might
that he on earth may reign.
A new day overcomes the night.
For those who know it’s plain.
Priests, magicians, magi know
the secrets of the skies,
so three wise men set out to go
and see the Lord arise.
To Israel’s capital they came
and went before the king.
“A god is born whose mighty fame
the harping planets sing.
“The Father gives unto the Son
the rule of all the earth.
Pray tell us where to find the one
we seek. Where finds he birth?”
Now Herod stood in rage and shock.
In ruins around him fell
his policy. The fates did mock.
He stood, but could not tell.
His masters, they were overseas,
religion he did scorn.
He called the priests and Pharisees
and asked where should be born
the Lord’s Messiah, long foretold,
the saviour of the earth,
by prophets, priests and kings of old
who had foreseen his birth.
“In Bethlehem, of David’s line
Messiah shall be born,”
they said, “and this shall be the sign
to herald Israel's dawn.”
To Bethlehem the Magi went,
with frankincense and myrrh,
and gold to crown the ruler sent
from Heaven, which does not err.
No palace found they in that place,
a cattle shed instead,
no silken robes his form to grace,
a hay-trough for his bed.
And in that trough a baby lay,
his mother couched on straw,
but in that baby, strange to say,
they recognised the law
that governs all the stars above
and makes the sun to shine,
the fountain He of God’s great Love,
a child, yet King divine.
“Oh dear, oh dear, upon my word,
whatever shall I give the Lord?
I need some help. I can’t work faster.
D’you think four courses for the Master
would be enough? We’ll start with soup,
and then of course there's all that troop
of friends that he will want to bring.
We’ll need more wine. What kind d’you think
that Galileans like to drink?
We must have white, the Lord likes fish,
then red, of course with meat – I wish
that you would help me Mary, please,
but you’ll just flop down at his knees
and listen to his every word
and never think just how absurd
it is to leave it all to me.
I really wish that he could see
the work I do – suppose it's hot,
he won’t want roast - I wish I’d got
a tongue last week – well don’t just stand
doing nothing – lend a hand!”
(Undated, ca 1986-87)
Explaining prayer, the Lord then said,
“To get it firmly in your head,
I’ll tell the story of a judge,
the sort of man who’d always fudge
his judgments, for the words he uttered
were all to keep his bread well buttered.
Maintaining thus his easy life
his aim was to avoid all strife
with powerful men, and so he chose
to give his verdicts just to those
who’d grease his palm or who could bring
him to the notice of the king
as one upon whom powerful friends
could all depend to gain their ends.
To him a widow came one day.
He heard what she then had to say,
how her life and wealth had dwindled
since by con-men she’d been swindled,
and how since then her only aim
had been through justice to reclaim
her property and then to jail
those crooks. He knew her claim would fail.
Those crooks were influential men
whom it would never do to pen
in prison and in durance vile,
and so he said, with wolfish smile
upon his well-fed, greasy face,
“Claim dismissed! I find no case
to answer here, for what was lost
is your own fault, and so the cost
is something you must bear yourself.”
The conmen added to his pelf
a modest little purse of gold,
and thus was justice bought and sold.
The widow came again next day.
In fact she wouldn’t go away
until she’d made him hear her pleas.
She fell before him on her knees
and put her case to him again,
but still he sided with those men.
She came again, and that makes three
times she came, and on her knee
she put to him again her claim
for compensation, and she came
yet again, and that makes four,
and hammered on the judge’s door
and wouldn’t leave until he heard
her case repeated word for word.
Again she came, and came thrice more,
and pleaded as she’d done before.
The judge at last, now growing tired,
resolved to grant what she desired,
though it might cost him in the end
the right to call that man his friend
who’d swindled the poor widow and
by such foul tricks throughout the land
had made himself extremely wealthy.
The judge however thought it healthy
to curb his greed, accept her case
so that he wouldn’t have to face
renewed petitions every day
and listen to her plead and pray.
Her prayers have got upon his nerves,
and so she gets what she deserves.
Now if a judge who’s so unjust,
through her persistence finds he must
give way to her and grant her case,
how much more will God, through grace,
grant to you the prayers you ask,
for in His love you always bask,
so don’t give up when things look black,
for God will furnish what you lack.”
Thus spoke the Saviour. Those who heard
treasured and obeyed His word.
Zacchaeus was a short man.
Zacchaeus couldn’t see.
Zacchaeus was behind the crowd.
Zacchaeus climbed a tree.
He’d heard of this new rabbi.
He climbed up to look out
Then Jesus looked and saw him,
and Jesus gave a shout,
“Come down from there, Zacchaeus
Tonight I’ll dine with you.”
Zacchaeus was astounded.
He scarce believed it true.
The people in the crowd said,
“Zacchaeus is a crook!
When he collects out taxes
he don’t go by the book.
A lot goes in his pockets,
for that’s what such folk do.
Why does Jesus favour him?
Jesus has no clue!”
Zacchaeus said to Jesus,
“I’ll give my wealth away:
half to help the struggling poor,
and I will also pay
to anyone I cheated
four times what I stole.”
“Yes, do it,” then said Jesus,
“and you’ll redeem your soul.”
“What a difference!” they all cried.
“Zacchaeus now’s our friend.
Jesus knows what he’s about!”
and thus our tale doth end.
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